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Victim services

Microsoft Idea Generator helps Catch22 support more victims

A hand holds out a tablet. In the air above the tablet are dots and connections, laid out in the shape of a face.

Microsoft recently invited Catch22 to an Ideas Generator alongside four other charities, presenting an opportunity for us to focus on a problem we currently face and to develop new solutions to overcome this challenge. We decided to focus on our victim services, a key part of Catch22’s work in helping people and communities to thrive.

Emma Jones, Head of Service for Beacon Victim Care, a Catch22 victim service, talks about why we took part, what our key problem was, and how the event sparked new innovation for both us and Microsoft.

Before we attended the event, we were asked to consider what organisational challenge we would focus on. We wanted to focus on accessibility: how we can help people who need our services find us and access support. We want to use the right channels, with the best technology, to reach the people who need us most.

On arrival day, Angela and Johnny from Microsoft, our team leaders for the day, introduce themselves to my Catch22 team. All good days start with a coffee and at the campus café, Perkee, the tag line reads “Think perkee, be perkee” – an accurate description of the day’s energy.

The Microsoft team tell us about their mission statement: “To empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more” – a mission we could easily get on board with! We talk about how quickly technology is changing and how Microsoft are working to ensure no one is left behind. This is what the Ideas Generator programme is all about; by working with charities and encouraging them to think outside the box, tech solutions are used for the greater good.

We hear how Microsoft is focused on being digitally inclusive, achieving tech accessibility for everyone, including those differently-abled. By turning personal health conditions into ‘mismatched human interactions’, they are bridging huge gaps. If that wasn’t enough to get us fired up, then I don’t know what would have been!

It was our turn to present our problem to the Microsoft team: that of the ‘hidden victim’. We want to ensure all victims of crime are aware of the services available to them and for them to easily reach us if they want to.

What is a ‘hidden victim’?

‘Hidden victims’ are people who do not access victims services, even though these services are free and independent of the police. Some do not trust services; some are trapped in a cycle of crime and so are nervous of engaging; some do not understand they have been a victim of crime. Many hidden victims are from vulnerable groups, including homeless victims, victims of domestic or sexual violence, those with language barriers, or very young or elderly victims, among others.

‘Hidden victims’ may not understand the offence which has occurred.  We may not know their location, or the number of individuals. They are particularly vulnerable, lack support and may be wary of reporting a crime to police.

Why is it so important we reach hidden victims?

Catch22 believes everyone should have good people around them and access to the right support. This belief is instilled across all our services; no victim should be left behind.

‘Hidden victims’ are also not included in official crime statistics and under-reporting means that funding does not get allocated to these groups of particularly vulnerable people. We believe that technology can help us understand the true picture of crime, enabling us to track accessibility, develop more accurate research in the area, and evaluate improvements for supporting future victims.

What was our solution?

Our solution is based on using translating existing technology to reach those who do not usually access services due to fear, lack of knowledge or trust. Using the methodologies of online marketing, we could use consumer segmentation for social good. We worked on how we could find these individuals using behavioural insight data. While we would have to consider ethical issues and bias in the data, we could develop sensitive ways for them to find us through awareness campaigns on multiple platforms. We considered how this could work across not just victim services, but the whole of Catch22, to ensure those who need help, can find it.

As we talked about potential solutions, the energy, enthusiasm and passion for finding our ‘hidden victims’ lit up the room. The Ideas Generator day opened our eyes to what we can achieve with help of technology. If we could reach people at the right time, in the right place, with the right service, then perhaps we really could achieve our mission of giving everyone the 3Ps – ensuring that everyone in society has a good place to live, a purpose in life and good people around them.